Holiday house tours and events at historic Hudson Valley venues
Take a break from decorating your own home for the holidays and check out these seven Hudson Valley historical houses that are decked out for Christmas and offering tours and other events. You, and your kids, might learn something, too.
Wilderstein in Rhinebeck
This Queen Anne Victorian mansion, which is filled with original furnishings, is on 40 acres overlooking the Hudson River in Rhinebeck. Once the home of Margaret (Daisy) Suckley, a cousin and friend of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the venue gets all dressed up for the holidays.
"Each year florists, designers and decorators come in and do the decorating," said Gregory J. Sokaris, Wilderstein's executive director. "Because each room has a different architectural theme, we have a mix. Some rooms are very traditional Victorian; others are very modern."
On weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. through Dec. 30, guests can tour the mansion at their own pace with guides in each room on hand to share information and answer questions. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors and free for children 12 and under.
Info: 330 Morton Rd., Rhinebeck; 845-876-4818; www.wilderstein.org
Franklin D. Roosevelt historic sites in Hyde Park
With the release of "Hyde Park on Hudson" this month, you can expect a crowded holiday season at the Franklin D. Roosevelt historic sites in Hyde Park. All three locations -- Val-Kill (the home of Eleanor Roosevelt), the FDR home and the FDR library -- are decorated for the holidays and open to the public for tours.
Springwood, where FDR was born and lived on and off for much of his life, is decorated in the style of Christmas 1944 (the last one he spent in Hyde Park) starting on Saturday. The venue is open daily at 9 a.m. with the last tour of the day starting at 4 p.m. Tours are $14 for adults and free for children 15 and under.
Just two miles from FDR's home stands Val-Kill, which will be decorated for Christmas 1961, the last one celebrated there. The space is set up in preparation for a visit from Eleanor's family with the table set for dinner and presents everywhere. Tours, which are $8 for adults and free for children 15 and under, are offered at 1 and 3 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. A shuttle will be available from the visitor center.
You can also visit FDR's Presidential Library & Museum, built while FDR was still president. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and admission can be obtained through a combination ticket that includes Sunnyside for $14 or a museum-only ticket for $7.
Val-Kill: 54 Valkill Park Rd., Hyde Park; 845-229-9422; www.nps.gov/elro/index.htm
Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison
This 19th century country house in Garrison is hosting a one-hour, docent-directed program through Dec. 31. Tours are offered daily, except for Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and reservations are not required. Tickets, which can be bought by phone, in person or online, are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors, $8 for children 6 to 14 and free for children under 5 and members.
Info: 1601 New York 9D, Garrison; 845-265-3638; www.boscobel.org
Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie
This 1850 Poughkeepsie estate, once the home of inventor Samuel Morse, will be open for holiday house tours every Saturday in December and during the week after Christmas. Decorations this year are inspired by the classic holiday tale, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," since recent scholarship suggests that Locust Grove's first resident, Henry Livingston Jr., may have been the original teller of the story.
Guides will share information on the museum collections as well as the seasonal decorations on tours taking place at 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for children.
The focus turns to kids on Sundays in December, when families are invited to join a treasure hunt followed by cookies and hot cider. The "Holiday Hunt" event runs from noon to 4 p.m. and costs $8 for children and $10 for adults.
Lyndhurst in Tarrytown
This Gothic revival mansion in Tarrytown hosts "Mr. Dickens Tells a Christmas Carol," a theatrical performance recreating Charles Dickens' very own readings of the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. Actor Michael Muldoon will tell the story as guests travel throughout the mansion "meeting" the different spirits and characters through Dec. 30.
The 90-minute performance/tour ends at the "Cratchit's" welcoming kitchen, where everyone can sample some holiday cheer (cider and cookies included).
Tickets to the event, which are available online, are $40 per person. All ages are welcome.
Info: 635 South Broadway, Tarrytown; 914-631-4481; www.showclix.com/event/dickens
Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park
This Gilded Age mansion in Hyde Park is extravagantly decorated for the holidays and open to visitors through the week after Christmas. The home is filled with Christmas trees -- each decorated with a different theme -- and you'll find poinsettia everywhere. The venue is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and guided tours ($8 per person and free for children under 15) are offered at 9:15 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
The gift shop, which sells books, jewelry, tea cups, cookbooks and more, often has a sale going on during the holidays, too.
Info: 19 Vanderbilt Park Rd., Hyde Park; 845-229-7770; www.nps.gov/vama/index.htm
Washington Irving's Sunnyside in Irvington
Sunnyside, the former home of author Washington Iriving, best known for "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, is done up in authentic mid-19th century Christmas decorations at this time of year. The decorated mansion, which was open to the public for only Thanksgiving weekend, can be experienced by groups of 10 or more by reservation only through the holiday season.
In keeping with the British-style decor Irving described in his novel, "Bracebridge Hall," the home is decorated with "greens" -- evergreens cover the mantles and fill the dining room, parlor and study. In an effort to be historically accurate, there are no Christmas trees on the property, since the tree was a custom that didn't come over to America from Germany until the 1850s.
A collection of 19th century children's toys will also be on display at Sunnyside, and the table will be filled with faux versions of some of Irving's favorite foods, including mincemeat pie and Stilton cheese.
Info: 3 W. Sunnyside Lane, Irvington; 914-631-8200 on weekdays, 914-591-8763 on weekends; www.hudsonvalley.org/historic-sites/washington-irvings-sunnyside